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					                                                       A Happy Christmas to all our members,

                        THE
                                                       elected representatives and friends!


                        HIGH WYCOMBE
                        SOCIETY
                        newsletter
     NUMBER 118                                                 WINTER 2000/2001

                                      Whose Heritage?
     ONCE A YEAR, Wycombe District Council, assisted by independent architectural advisers, marks
     high quality design and heritage work in the District with a series of awards – the Malcolm Dean
     Design, Landscape and Social Housing Awards, and the Jack Scruton Heritage Award. The entries
     this year were of a particularly high quality. The decrepit former post office in Easton Street, once
     a town house of the Dashwood family, has at last been elegantly transformed into Rigs Wine Bar.
     The Old Fire Station in Aveling Road has been converted into a handsome company headquarters,
     Rye Mill Garage has acquired a pleasing new showroom and offices, and out of town, a superb
     barn conversion in Wheeler End won the Jack Scruton Award (see p.4). Jack loved the town, but
     he surely appreciated beauty in the countryside too.
     The District Council's role in all this is not limited to the awards themselves. No doubt winning
     awards does encourage architectural practices and, indeed, their very existence must foster a
     competitive spirit amongst professionals. As we heard at our last quarterly meeting (see p.9),
     however, valuable work is also done by the Conservation Officer to encourage, advise and perhaps
     cajole property owners into making the best of our built heritage, and the system of listed
     building consents, administered in Wycombe by the District Council, serves us well.
     But there is always room to do even more. On pages 8 and 11 we recount the tale of the annual
     Heritage Weekend in September. A great deal of work by our Hon. Secretary, assisted with great
     commitment by the District Council's Heritage Officer, meant that Wycombe was not completely
     left out of this national event, sponsored by the Civic Trust. But ours was a small event and poorly
     attended. We learnt from our colleagues in the Association of North Thames Amenity Societies
     that many other towns achieve a great deal more. The Marlow Society has had too many people
     traipsing through buildings that have been opened for the weekend, and the Chesham Society has
     even begun issuing tickets! They have had more success than we in getting public access to their
     historic buildings, and they have also managed to draw in the visitors.
     There is clearly more that we as a Society can do in approaching local owners. But informing the
     people of the town is a real problem. Getting posters on to the town's notice boards seems to be
     a total lottery, and getting publicity in the local press is no less haphazard.
     Making the most of our heritage needs commitment from all of us.
                                                                                         Chris Woodman



                      …caring about our town: past, present
                                                and future
                  Registered Charity No. 257897

Honorary Secretary: Frances Presland, 61 Hicks Farm Rise, High Wycombe, Bucks. HP13 7SX. Tel: (01494) 523263
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                           2                      NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001



Planning

                         Local Plan Public Inquiry
YES, THE long-awaited Local Plan Public Inquiry has opened at last! Since its opening on 3 October,
there have been 10 sitting days. Perhaps the pace has been leisurely – the Inquiry sits for only 3½
days a week, and the two Inspectors do not sit simultaneously. But the benefit, hopefully, is that they
will be writing their report as they go along and there will not be too many months to wait for the final
report after the inquiry ends in mid-2001.
The inquiry sits in two modes. Formal hearings         District Council. Tesco's existing store is, of
are the norm, and are like court hearings.             course, to be compulsorily purchased. Tesco have
Advocates question witnesses, who may then             been offered a 1500 square metre "basket store"
be cross-examined by the other side (although          in the Western Sector but claimed it was not
objectors may represent themselves if they             enough. It turned out that the District Council
wish). The Inspector intervenes only to ask            have suggested they could have 2400 m2 – as big
important questions that the advocates have            as their existing ground floor, but for Tesco this
missed. In informal sessions, however, the             was still not enough. The battle continues, but the
Inspector chairs the meeting around a table,           important action is said to be behind the scenes.
and it is he who asks the questions, while both
                                                       On 6 October, our John Gore (see p.3) was
sides may put their points of view.
                                                       preceded by our member Sheila Latimer of the
Both the Inspectors at this inquiry have been          Bassetsbury Area Protection Group, who opposed
admirably approachable and reasonable.                 all development on the Sewage Works site.
However, it has become fairly clear that small
                                                       On 17 October there was an absorbing session on
objectors such as individuals, or our Society,
                                                       Downley. An individual resident, Mr Lambert,
will probably do best by asking for informal
                                                       opposed the allocation of Turner's Field (next to
hearings. The informal hearings are driven by
                                                       The Downley School), for housing. He had clearly
the Inspector's desire to get at the truth, and
                                                       done a great deal of homework and stood up
there is plenty of opportunity to put additional
                                                       particularly  well   to    cross-examination.     A
points. The formal sessions are driven by the
                                                       disappointing aspect of the session was that it left
advocate's duty to put one point of view, the
                                                       the impression that, not withstanding the Village
right of reply is very formalised and important
                                                       Design Statement, the District Council regards
points can get missed.
                                                       Downley as just another part of High Wycombe.
The District Council plays a central role in the
inquiry.   It is WDC officers' job, in giving          31 October and 1 November were taken up with
evidence or presenting consultants as                  another set-piece retailer's struggle, over the
witnesses, to defend the Local Plan as                 future of Waitrose in Marlow. Having applied to
deposited (and amended by pre-inquiry                  extend their existing store in the mid-1990s,
changes – PICs). Before each hearing, they             Waitrose have since purchased land to the west of
prepare written "rebuttal evidence" which is           the High Street and want to build a new store
passed to the relevant objectors. When the             there, saying extension is not viable. The District
Inquiry is over, the Inspectors' report will           Council, having opposed Waitrose earlier, now
propose changes to the Council's plan which            wants them to extend!
the Council is more or less obliged to accept.         There was more of Marlow on 3 November. The
The Quarterly Planning report on p.3 describes         Marlow Group (an ad hoc group of mainly retired
the sessions in which the Society participated.        professionals, distinct from the Marlow Society),
But there has been much of interest on other           opposed Waitrose's plans, and advocated better
days. The public gallery in the Council                pedestrian and cycling links around the town.
Chamber always has plenty of room and,                 On 14 November, the Grange Action Group made
indeed, the public are invited to sit closer to        the first of a number of formal appearances to
proceedings if they wish.                              propose changes that, they felt, would reduce
On the first day, 3 October, the East of               pressure to build on Grange Farm in the future.
Amersham      Hill     Residents'   Association        And the Gomm Valley Residents Group sought
described the difficulties caused when planning        changes to the Plan that would help prevent
applicants used out-of-date maps and got it            Tylers Green and Penn from merging into the
agreed that a Code of Practice should be               High Wycombe urban area.
drawn up to cover this.                                Do feel free to join your Editor in the public
On 5 October, continued on 11 October, there           gallery! A fuller account of all this is on our web
was a titanic battle between Tesco and the             site (www.highwycombesociety.org.uk).
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                              3                    NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001




                             Planning This Quarter
THE PLANNING GROUP has continued to meet                  built into the Plan to react to changing
each month to discuss planning issues arising             circumstances. Our point that rooms in Houses
from the emerging District Local Plan and                 in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) should be
current planning applications.                            included in the housing statistics as dwellings
                                                          and thus lead to a reduction in new houses
Public Inquiry into Wycombe District Local Plan           required was supported by WDC.
to 2001 The most notable event in the planning
calendar in the past three months has, of                 We have also submitted written representations
course, been the opening of the Public Inquiry            on the Copperfields development and on the
into the Wycombe District Local Plan to 2011.             housing policy concerned with creating balanced
The Inquiry finally opened on 3 October under             communities.
Mr Geoff Salter, an Inspector with the Planning           The Public Inquiry continues well into 2001.
Inspectorate, assisted by a colleague, another
Inspector, Mr John MacBryde. Between them                 Sainsbury’s redevelopment This quarter has
they will hear all of the objectors to the Local          seen the submission of a planning application by
Plan who have opted to appear in person, and              Sainsbury’s which, if permitted, would have a
will also consider all written objections before          tremendous effect on High Wycombe town
completing their report. Bearing in mind the              centre, matching that of the Western Sector
importance of this Inquiry in confirming or               itself. Sainsbury’s hope to replace their existing
formulating planning policy for the Wycombe               store on Dovecot Road by a much larger one,
District up until 2011, one would have expected           which would take in the ground floor of the
representatives of the local press to have been           Dovecot multi-storey car park and extend
present in force, but at most of the sessions to          through to a new frontage on Oxford Road,
date it has been solely your conscientious High           opposite the Western Sector, possibly with a
Wycombe Society Newsletter Editor, Chris                  footbridge over the road. Besides incorporating
Woodman, in the public gallery taking notes.              a restaurant, a petrol filling station and 980 car
                                                          parking spaces, the new development would
My first appearance at the Inquiry was on 6               include 58 one- and two-bedroom flats – a
October in support of the Society’s objection to          proposal which we have commended as making
retail warehousing on the former Gas Works and            a significant contribution to local housing needs
Wycombe Marsh (paper mill and sewage treat-               and a boost to the vitality of the town centre.
ment works) sites. We considered that retail
warehouses on the Gas Works site would                    In view of the importance of this proposed
compete unfairly with town centre and Western             development, we have suggested that the
Sector shops, and that the land could be put to           developers should hold a public meeting to
better use for leisure activities for young people.       explain their proposals and listen to public
We also thought that retail warehousing would             reaction. Meanwhile, we have expressed
be unsuitable at Wycombe Marsh alongside the              disappointment at the style of the architectural
housing of ‘high standard’, which the Council             design on the Oxford Road frontage. This
also proposes for this site. During the                   elevation has a very mechanical, almost
interchange of views, it emerged that one of the          computer-designed, appearance, with artificial-
main factors in calling for retail warehousing            looking winged roofs to give some animation. It
was that it would raise more money than other             is doubtful if it will relate well to the Western
forms of development for cleaning up these                Sector, whose design, we are told, will reflect
polluted sites. It remains to be seen what the            local traditional styles.
Inspector will recommend.                                 Other planning applications Apart from the Rye
                                                          Environment Centre planning application, which
My next appearance was on 10 October for the
                                                          is dealt with elsewhere in this Newsletter, we
Housing Round Table, when Geoff Salter chaired
                                                          considered several others, including The
a meeting of representatives of a number of
                                                          Courtyard, Frogmoor and the Esso service
developers and builders, County and District
                                                          stations at Terriers and Marlow Road, High
Council officers, and environmental and resid-
                                                          Wycombe.
ents’ groups, such as ourselves. The developers’
main theme was that the District Plan did not             At The Courtyard, the former Parker-Knoll
meet the County Strategic Plan housing alloc-             offices, it is proposed to demolish the offices at
ations in full, so additional greenfield sites            the rear and replace them with a six-storey block
should be allocated. This the Council                     of flats. We supported the idea of residential
representatives     commendably         resisted,         development in the town centre, but we
contending that sufficient flexibility was being          commented on the height of the block, asking
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                              4                     NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001


for guidelines on building height to be set so            respectively (i) as tending to have an adverse
that traditional buildings are not overshadowed.          effect on the viability of local shops at Terriers
                                                          and (ii) as being likely to exacerbate traffic
At both the Esso service stations it is proposed
                                                          problems at the Desborough Avenue/Marlow
to build Tesco Express shops, with additional
                                                          Road junction.
car parking. We have objected to these
                                                                                                  John Gore

Pann Mill
                                        Quo Vadis?
HAVING ACHIEVED our long term goal of milling             This year a group of helpers met on a rare, dry,
flour again at Pann Mill, the question arises,            crisp evening at the mill to enjoy a barbecue,
"Where do we go from here?"                               fireworks and a glass of wine under the pretext
How often shall we mill? What market is there for         of supervising the bonfire.
our stone ground flour? How secure is the                 Whilst many in the district have suffered from
Society's lease of the Mill? Discussions                  flooding, the Wye stream (though full to
concerning a rent or lease of the site have been          capacity) has caused us no problem at all. This
ongoing for two years.                                    may seem hard to believe but every single
In 2001 we will be continuing with our                    Sunday morning work party in the year 2000 has
fortnightly work parties and have fixed the dates         been dry and mainly sunny.
for milling. They are:                                                                             Myra King
   National Mills Day   Sun. 13th May
                                                          Design and Heritage Awards 2000
   Midsummer            Sun. 15th July
   Wycombe Show         Sun. 2nd September                Once a year, the District Council makes awards
                                                          for the best architecture created in the district in
                                                          the past 12 months. The joint winners of the
                                                          Malcolm Dean Design Awards were The Old Fire
                                                          Station in Aveling Road and Rye Mill Garage on
                                                          London Road, and the Malcolm Dean Landscape
                                                          Award went to The Disraeli School, The
                                                          Pastures. The runner-up for the Jack Scruton
                                                          Heritage Award is the conversion of Rigs Wine
                                                          Bar in Easton Street. This was originally a late-
                                                          18th Century town house for the Dashwood
                                                          family. In 1842 it became a post office. The
                                                          winner was Huckenden Farm Barn at Wheeler
                                                          End. The citation states, "An 'idealistic' repair of
                                                          a Grade II listed oak-framed barn, employing
                                                          'vernacular' methods and materials, and its
Our 18 year old workshop is in need of a new              conversion to a dwelling. To preserve its integrity
roof or replacement with a new permanent,                 as a barn, there is to be no subdivision of its
larger structure. Within the present workshop we          interior."
have a number of ancient grain cleaners, one of           It is a beautiful building with a truly cavernous
which is being renovated at present. We are               interior.
lucky to have a complete grain cleaner made by
Cooch and Sons of Northampton (see photo).
Inside the Mill itself we need to create a
mechanism for raising and lowering the sluice
board, which governs the speed of the
millstones. Today the sluice is operated from
outside the mill building, which is impractical for
the miller.
Winter is the time when most of our mainten-
ance work is carried out. Repainting, repairs and
tree pruning are yearly necessities. Leaves and
boughs brought down in the wind are heaped in
the dry leat for our November bonfire.                             Huckenden Farm Barn, Wheeler End
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                                   5                       NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001




                 The Rye Environment Centre - Update
MOST OF YOU will by now have heard that on 18 October the District Council eventually gave approval
for the conversion of the former café building in the Holywell Mead swimming pool complex into an
Environment Centre. A great deal of our last issue was taken up with a description of this project and
our concerns about it. We had five main concerns – the building's design, the impact of security
measures, the impact of visitors, features external to the site such as signage, and the long-term future
of the centre. Here is a description – which we owe to you, our members, and which also deserves to
be part of the historical record – of the steps leading up to the Council's decision.
On 9 September, we wrote to certain Councillors                Councillors had clearly studied our letter to
and WDC Directors about our five main areas of                 them, and drew on the points we had made.
concern seeking a meeting. Our request was                     (Many welcomed the contribution our Society
granted and we met senior officers, together                   makes to the town.) A number said the build-
with the BBOWT project director, Nick Forster,                 ing's design was unsatisfactory (one even said
on 28 September. There was a measure of                        "ghastly"), but the greatest concern was ex-
sympathy for all our points. The Planning Officer              pressed about the impact of visitors by vehicle.
seemed to be concerned about the design                        Other Councillors felt the project was exciting
(which he had not seen before) and how it would                and would be an educational asset for the
relate to its surroundings. Nobody seemed to                   young, and decried the opposition to the project.
want intrusive security lighting. Nobody                       After Councillors had spoken, it fell to officers to
professed enthusiasm for interpretation boards                 reply to the questions raised. At that point, it
on the Rye but, on the other hand, it was pointed              became increasingly clear that there was no
out that planning consent would not be required.               intention to make it easy for Councillors to reject
No commercial use was envisaged. Council                       the application. They were advised that, for a
Officers believed that schoolchildren would                    rejection to be robust against appeal (and
arrive by coaches which would not hang around                  payment of an appellant's costs), they must give
after dropping them off. They also believed the
Centre itself would be viable in the long term,                Correction – and the lessons
but that the same might not be true of the
swimming pool complex as a whole: this was to                  In the rush to put together the extended Autumn
be addressed by a report of the Council's Best                 issue of the Newsletter, some inaccuracies crept
Value Committee in December.                                   in. In particular, it may have been misleading to
                                                               suggest that the project had "grown" during
At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that we               2000: the planning application granted in late
would receive a letter from the Council and                    1999 was no smaller than the design now
BBOWT addressing these points. In the event,                   approved and would have contained offices, but
we received only a partial reply, from BBOWT                   it was designed in the style of the existing
alone. We then took the only course open to us –               buildings. Furthermore the Business Plan, which
we opposed the application, and wrote to all                   is the basis of our concerns about traffic etc, is
Councillors expressing our concerns.                           unchanged since 1999 (although we understand
The Planning Applications Panel considered the                 that a completely new Business Plan will now be
application on 18 October. The Planning                        required as the basis for implementation). We
Officer's   written    report     recommended                  are sorry for these mistakes.
acceptance, while giving full space to our                     The Executive Committee has learnt from this
objections and recognising that there was scope                whole experience. Our biggest mistake was that,
for an alternative conclusion (which sat oddly                 focusing on the design, we did not oppose the
with subsequent events). After John Gore and                   earlier application which, it turned out, had
Nick Forster had had their 3 minutes to speak,                 "established the principle". Once the principle of
the first Councillor to speak moved rejection                  conversion to an Environment Centre had been
which was quickly seconded, and thereafter the                 approved, the grounds on which we could
discussion seemed to be evenly balanced. Many                  oppose the project were greatly narrowed.




 The café building is the only two-storey building in the swimming pool complex. The conversion will make it more bulky
                         than before, as shown on the left in this scale drawing by Colin Dobinson.
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                             6                    NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001


reasons for their rejection. Concern about               So the Councillor who had originally seconded
"impact on the character of the Rye" was not             the motion to reject withdrew, and eventually
enough: what sort of impact? And the trump               just one Councillor (Cllr Lambourne) was left
card was played. The previous application for            maintaining his opposition. The application was
conversion to an Environment Centre that had             granted.
been granted in late 1999 by "delegated
                                                         The one good point about the evening was that
procedure" – i.e. without Councillors being
                                                         practically all Councillors speaking, even those
personally involved – established the principle of
                                                         who supported the project from the start, clearly
change of use, and there was no reason to think
                                                         shared many of our concerns. Perhaps that will
the new design would attract any more visitors
                                                         stand us in good stead.
than the earlier design. So there could be no
grounds for rejection on the basis of visitor and        On 9 November we attended a meeting of the
vehicle impact.                                          "wider group" that is monitoring the project, and
The one factor that had changed since the                on 6 December we are to attend a meeting of
earlier application was, of course, the building's       potential trustees for the project. The important
design, which several Councillors had criticised.        point now will be for us to be involved in a way
It was astonishing that, given the evident               that allows us to influence how the project is
frustration of Councillors who found themselves          implemented, and to do our best to minimise
with no valid grounds for objection, Council             the risks that we identified in opposing the
Officers did not point this out. It was scarcely         project, and with which Councillors expressed so
less surprising that no Councillors noticed it, or       much sympathy.
if they did, they failed to mention it.


ANTAS                                                    District Council Open Day
The Association of North Thames Amenity                  For 3 hours on the afternoon of 11 September
Societies held its 2000 AGM on 21 October in             the District Council opened its doors to the
Hertford, in the beautiful Quaker Meeting House          public. One could turn up and be taken on a
in Railway Street. This is the oldest QMH still in       half-hour tour of the Council Offices, and meet
use anywhere in the world, built by amateurs in          some of the officers who are at the sharp end of
1670, at a time when all the leading Hertford            the Council's operations.
Quakers were in prison due to the religious
                                                         Well, actually we were taken on a fascinating
intolerance of the time. The building came close
                                                         two-hour tour. We saw the CCTV control room.
to collapse a few years ago and had to be
                                                         We were introduced to the Geographical
strengthened by a successfully discreet internal
                                                         Information System where every property in the
steel frame. Do visit it!
                                                         District is depicted in detail along with data on
There was the usual valuable exchange of                 Listed Buildings, Tree Preservation Orders, you
information. Many North Thames towns had had             name it. We saw the centre where alarm calls
more successful Heritage weekends than we.               from elderly people with special telephones are
Chesham had to resort to issuing tickets to limit        monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We
the numbers. It seems that personal approaches           heard about the impressive work on Community
to buildings' owners are essential.                      Development in Lane End, Micklefield and
We heard of an interesting new wheeze by ever-           Castlefield. We saw pollution monitoring, Agenda
resourceful house-builders in St Albans. There           21, much else. After our tour we joined leading
was a planning application for land along                Councillors for a cup of coffee.
people's back gardens to be fenced off, broken
                                                         The bad news was that a mere 8 members of the
into strips and sold to the homeowners. It would
                                                         public turned up! For reasons outside the
thus no be longer green space and could then be
                                                         Council's control, the event had been twice
bought back for development! Everyone would
                                                         rescheduled. There had been publicity but, as so
win, except the environment!
                                                         often in this town, it evidently failed. Oh dear,
The meeting was rounded off by a talk by the             why can't the Bucks Free Press do just a little
Local Authority Executive for the Empty Homes            more?
Agency. Many local authorities have an Empty
Property Strategy Officer who cajoles owners of          If the event is to be repeated in 2001, we will
empty property into putting them into use, with          publicise it in this Newsletter. That might just
compulsory purchase as a last resort.                    make a little bit of difference!

Will you be a Friend of the Rye?                   The Friends of the Rye Group is looking for new
members. If you want to preserve the Rye, whether by active campaigning, delving into its fascinating
history, monitoring what goes on there or simply by contributing thoughtfully to the discussion, please
come along to the next meeting of the Group. Contact the leader, Frances Presland, on 01494 523263.
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                           7                        NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001



Transport
The Busway                                             will be able to come into use, and it is planned
                                                       that, when the Western Sector is complete,
THE SECOND WEEK of October saw an                      buses stopping at the Railway Station will then
exhibition in the front foyer to the Council           pass through the town centre to the new bus
Offices of the new busway which is jointly             interchange in Bridge Street. In short, buses
proposed by Bucks County Council and                   will be better integrated, not only with rail
Wycombe District Council. This is a favourite          transport, but with the town centre too.
project of the two Councils, one on which they         The project is not without controversy. It will
are working enthusiastically together, and is          pass close to some houses behind London
the first part of a grand design to adapt              Road, and some residents (who had been
Wycombe's bus services to the Western Sector           informed direct of the exhibition) were clearly
development and improve the interchange with           concerned that they would be overlooked by
rail services. Following the line of the former        passengers on the bus, and about lighting at
High Wycombe to Bourne End railway line, the           night.
bus lane will leave the A40 at Spring Gardens,
run along the south side of the G-Plan site,           The Society's main concern has been to
down to and across Gordon Road at a                    preserve the possibility of the restoration of
conventional junction, and then up again, close        some kind of light rail link along the former
to the active High Wycombe to London railway           railway line all the way to Bourne End. The
line, along the edge of what is now the station        County Council has been, to say the least,
car park and into the station forecourt.               unenthusiastic about this (even though the
                                                       economics and general attractiveness of light
                                                       railways have very markedly improved in the
                                                       past few years as experience has shown how
                                                       effective they are in attracting drivers away
                                                       from their cars). A light railway (or tramway)
                                                       could share the busway with buses: for most of
                                                       its length the busway will not be open to other
                                                       vehicles, but except for a small stretch close to
                                                       the station, it will be wide enough for buses to
                                                       pass in each direction. However, a tramway
                                                       would probably need a bridge to be restored
 Julian Hartless of BCC and Elsa Woodward of the       over Gordon Road. There was originally plenty
     Transport Group enjoying their discussion!
                                                       of room for this, but the County Council would
The project will mean valuable time savings for        not protect the line and therefore the
buses coming from the east, and it is also             redevelopment of the G-Plan site made no
intended that buses from the north will go via         provision for it. The Transport Group have
Bowerdean Road and turn into the busway                been trying to determine whether this can be
from Gordon Road.                                      achieved using the land that is still available
It is, of course, essential that the Station
Forecourt is re-designed as an effective
interchange. This is planned to be part of a
general plan to redevelop this area, involving
the demolition of the ATS Tyres premises, the
construction by J Laing of an office block set
                                                                              Proposed
back from Amersham Hill, and a purpose-                                       Fence
                                                                                                               Possible
                                                                                                               Environmental
designed interchange for buses and taxis                                      Proposed
                                                                                                               Barrier

including provision for private cars to drop off                              Barrier
rail passengers. Currently, this part of the
overall design is held up over the loss of car
parking spaces due to the office block and the                     Existing Railtrack sidings
                                                                   to be abandoned
busway: the Rail Regulator requires these to be
replaced. Little has become public about this          Cross-section through the busway at the "pinch point"
yet, but the District Council's financial                       where traffic lights will be needed.
provisions for 2001/02 and beyond, just
agreed, include a sum of £3.5 million for car          and, at the same time, we are pressing the
parking. One possible use for this money is            County Council to take a more open position
"decking" – i.e. building a second storey above        on the light rail project as a whole.
or below one of the station car parks – most           The timetable for the busway is for planning
likely that in Duke Street.                            permission to be applied for in Spring 2001
Once the station is redeveloped, the busway            and the scheme to open in late 2003.
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                             8                       NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001



Heritage Weekend 2000
The date was changed to 16-17 September.
Local firms were not very interested.
                                                                      !!! Quiz Time !!!
Co-operation with other organisations seemed
to go missing. The local Press did not seem to           Calling all children 1 – 15 years old… A £5
want to know. And Sunday 17th turned out to              W H Smith token is available if you can answer
be Battle of Britain day, with the area around           the following question.
the Parish Church blocked. Oh, I forgot to
mention, the market stalls were all still in place                  "Where and what are the
on Sunday morning – those responsible for
tidying up had had a party the night before.
                                                                        Rupert Gates?”

But in spite of this, the High Wycombe Society           Send your answers to the Editor (address on
put on a creditable show, with help from Jo              back page) by 31 December. The first correct
Tiddy of Wycombe District Council. There were            answer out of the bag will win.
two Town Trails on each day, from the Museum
and from the Church. Thanks to those who led             Questions set by Pauline Cauvain of our Heritage Group.
those groups. And under the Little Market                Last issue’s question was “What area in the town centre is
House was an interesting display of painted              known as 'the Canal'?" Maybe this was more difficult than
glass, love spoons, wood turning, pomanders              usual – there were no responses. "The Canal" was an earlier
(to deter the Plague), potted plants (with pretty        name for the area known as Frogmoor.
pots), marzipan fruits and appropriate
literature about our activities, as well as a wool       rious public hangings of murderers took place
spinner. Upstairs, an extremely interesting              there. The right of pasturage was eventually
display called The Making of High Wycombe                ended in 1927: a Local Act of Parliament
was well attended, with added interest from the          stipulated that henceforth the Rye could be
lace makers.                                             used for certain recreational purposes only.
Well done, everyone concerned.                           Which is more or less where we are at today! In
                                                         the 1960s there was an heroic and gloriously
                                    Ann Simone
                                                         successful battle to keep the A40 Relief Road
                                                         off the Rye. In 1994 the Society supported a
                                                         successful battle to prevent the conversion of
A Villa, Villeins and Villains                           the Swimming Pool to a privately run
                                                         recreation centre. In 2000, the Society objected
Such was the title of the exhibition on the
                                                         to a proposal to convert one of the swimming
History of the Rye created by our Hon.
                                                         pool buildings into an environmental centre –
Secretary with the help of other members of
                                                         with less success, and we await with
the Heritage Group for the Society's stand at
                                                         trepidation to see what the real impact of this
this year's Wycombe Show.
                                                         on the historic Rye will be.
Most of us have heard of the remains of the              The exhibition received a welcome second
Roman villa on the Rye, which were largely lost          airing at our quarterly meeting on 18 October,
when the swimming pool complex was built in              provoking much interest.
the 1950s. But it was an eyeopener to find that
stone age, bronze age and iron age remains
have all been identified in the region of the Rye.       Houses in Multiple Occupation
Although Julius Caesar is remembered for his
                                                         Or "HMOs"! On page 3, you will see that there is
arrival in 56-55BC, it was a century later in
                                                         some debate as to how far these should be
41AD that the Roman colonisation of Britain
                                                         counted in deciding whether Wycombe will meet
began. The villa on the Rye was laid out in the
                                                         its housing targets. But HMOs themselves are
2nd century. It included an unusually large
                                                         also terrifically controversial. Back in June,
and elaborate bath house with a plunge pool.
                                                         some District Councillors were very sore when
The mosaic was re-discovered by workmen in
                                                         officers advised them that, because the Local
1722.
                                                         Plan says very little on HMOs, there were no
It can be assumed that in the Middle Ages, the           legitimate grounds on which applications for
Rye was used for pasture. With the founding of           HMO conversions in Suffield Road and
the Borough of High Wycombe in 1226,                     Coningsby Road could be turned down. For
pasturage was limited to the Burgesses, each             future cases, that situation is about to be
of whom could graze two cows and one young               remedied. The Council is about to hold six
calf, during daylight hours. By the 17th                 weeks' consultation on new Guidance to form an
century, this privilege was not limited to               amendment to the current Local Plan. As far as
burgesses. That was not all that the Rye was             we can see, the amendments look helpful and
used for, though. In the 18th century, noto-             we hope we shall be able to welcome them.
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                            9                     NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001



Quarterly meeting

        The Work of the Historic Buildings Trust
THE QUARTERLY MEETING on 18th October featured Wycombe District Council's Conservation
Officer, Martin Andrew, speaking on the work of the Historic Buildings Trust.
The Bucks Historic Buildings Trust was                  House from London Road is one of these. I
founded in 1983, following on from an earlier           recently visited this excellent Museum, and the
system of using a revolving fund of £100,000 to         Toll House is now furnished and looking great!
renovate and sell on redundant buildings. After
                                                        I feel that the work of the Bucks Historic
the Montague Report, the organisation became
                                                        Buildings Trust and other similar organisations
County-based, using local expertise, and the
                                                        does not gain the recognition and respect it
Bucks HBT is both a registered charity and a
                                                        deserves from the general public, which seems
limited company, with 13 board members.
                                                        a pity, for without the skills and perseverance
The Trust believes there are no problem                 of the people involved, our towns and villages
buildings, just problem owners! One of the              would be very much poorer. The Trust makes a
most difficult aspects of Mr Andrew's job is            valuable contribution to all of our lives, and
trying to negotiate with philistine property            long may this continue.
owners who just don't "get it", who do not see
                                                        After some excellent slides, Mr Andrew
the importance of our built heritage. I guess
                                                        answered some questions from the floor, and a
we've all met a few of those!
                                                        vote of thanks was offered by Ian Guy.
We were treated to some wonderful "before and
                                                                                          Denise Lindsay
after" slides of rescued buildings, including
Amersham Museum, which was originally a
15th Century hall house, with later additions            Widmere Chapel is a little-known 13th-14th century
including a 17th Century chimney. Another of            building incorporated into a farm off the Marlow-Lane
the Trust's successes is a rare example of a             End Road. Below left: damage caused by the earlier
                                                         fashion to expose ancient stonework (photo: Martin
14th century cruck frame cottage in Milton
                                                          Andrew). Below: after protective and appropriate
Keynes (the real Milton Keynes, that is!) which          rendering, part of an overall scheme to prevent any
has been renovated.                                        further deterioration. Bottom: the splendid 13th
                                                                          century undercroft.
The Bucks Historic Buildings Trust sees itself
as an enabling organisation, offering help
(sometimes financial), expertise and advice, e.g.
carrying out feasibility studies and essential
urgent repairs. The new owners then become
responsible for the future upkeep. We were
shown examples of the Trust's work in High
Wycombe, which includes the Shelburne
Memorial in the Parish Church, the former
Post Office in
Easton
Street which
has come to
life again as
Rigs      wine
bar, and the
jolly-looking
Café Rouge
in     Church
Square.
Some build-
ings      are
relocated to
venues such
as the Open
Air Museum
at Chalfont
St Giles. The
old       Toll
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                              10                     NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001




                                 "Queen of the Halls"
IF YOU had been passing the Friends' Meeting House in London Road on Friday, 3rd of November
2000 and looked in the window, you would have glimpsed an audience in Victorian Costume enjoying
"The Life and Times of Marie Lloyd" presented by our member, Annie Woodward.
The entire evening was the 'brainchild' of Annie           At the peak of her career she was earning huge
who has a passion for the Victorian Music Hall             sums of money and on some evenings she would
and its performers. She joined forces with Myra            perform in five Music Halls, travelling between
King and friends to put on the evening in order            venues in a cab, changing costumes on the way.
to raise funds for the continuing work of the              We listened and sang along to some of her
Pann Mill Restoration Project.                             famous songs, e.g. "The boy I love is up in the
                                                           Gallery," "A little of what you fancy does you good,"
The evening began with the audience rising to
                                                           and "My old man says follow the van". Her
their feet to receive an honoured guest in the
                                                           successful professional life masked a troubled
form of Her Majesty Queen Victoria (aka Karen
                                                           and painful personal life, with failed marriages in
Roberts) who had made a special detour from
                                                           which she suffered mental and physical abuse at
her journey to Windsor Castle after a private visit
                                                           the hands of her husbands. She died, still
to Hughenden earlier that day. Annie then told
                                                           performing but worn out, at the age of 52 years
us about Marie's early cockney childhood in East
                                                           in 1922.
London where Marie had been born on 12th
February 1870. She was one of nine children in             The presentation concluded with the treat of
the family, and together with two of her sisters,          hearing an actual recording of Marie singing
she took part in many a family entertainment,              "Every little movement has a meaning of its own."
singing and dancing to entertain relatives. Her            Her voice was amazingly strong and powerful
name was then Mathilda Victoria Alice Wood –               and one could easily imagine, after Annie's
she changed her name to Marie Lloyd when she               description, the lively personality and character
went on the stage as a professional performer.             of Marie herself. Annie was warmly applauded
In the 1880s the Music Halls were enjoying their           for such a splendid talk.
heyday but Marie's parents were hardworking
                                                           Myra King then gave a short history and update
East Enders who were appalled when Marie
                                                           on the Pann Mill Restoration Project. Following
wanted to go on the stage of the Music Hall. The
                                                           the raffle, the best-dressed Victorian lady (Mrs
Temperance Movement was very active at this
                                                           Enid Davis) and gentleman (Mr Paul Taylor) were
time and people who frequented and performed
                                                           presented with prizes. A light supper and social
in bars and music halls were considered to be
                                                           time then concluded a very pleasant evening.
very vulgar. Marie, however, was determined to
                                                           Many thanks to Annie and Co. for their efforts
follow her chosen career, and in her mid-teens,
                                                           which raised a truly amazing £460.25p
she started to sing and dance in the bars and
                                                           (including three much appreciated donations)
music halls. Her professional career was very
                                                           for the Pann Mill Restoration Project.
successful and she was a very popular performer
with her saucy wink and suggestive comments.                                                    Diana Lawson




Clockwise from top left:
Queen Victoria, Victorian
Annie, Victorian Miller Myra,
Victorian Chairman with spouse
Victorian Diana, Victorian
audience, Victorian Peter and
Victorian Artist Ian.
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                             11                    NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001


                                                          on (01494) 527978 if you would be interested
“In My Opinion…”                                          in supporting the Theatre's work. – Ed.

Whose heritage?
I attended the Heritage Weekend celebrations              Our Show – by Essex Girl
in and under The Little Market House on                   When I was young, in a small village in Essex,
Sunday 17 September as a visitor. The crafts              the high spot of the year was "The Show". I can
and displays were fascinating and all the                 still remember the smell of the crafts and
participants enthusiastic. It was a joy to be             produce tent – well-trodden mown grass – all
there. It merited a better response from the              the flowers and veg. – and feel the atmosphere
public and it makes me wonder why other                   and excitement when we were allowed in after
aspects of the town's heritage did not feature in         the judging was completed and the eager
the weekend's events.                                     anticipation to see what colour awards had
High Wycombe surely has many secret                       been placed on all our efforts. The knitting and
treasures to share. Should I badger my local              smocking, exquisite crochet and colourful
councillors or officials at Wycombe District              patchwork, the jams and pickles, sponges and
Council for more involvement next time?                   wine – all the friendly rivalry. Even the children
                                                          could compete in their classes: the tiny
After all, this is not something dreamt up by             miniature scores of gardens or palaces made
the High Wycombe Society. Heritage Weekend                with stones and shells and mirrors, tiny ferns
is a national event started by the Civic Trust.           and flowers and animals made from odd
Other towns participate, why not High                     shaped vegetables or model aeroplanes. That is
Wycombe?                                                  what I miss in Wycombe Show. There are stalls
Annie Woodward                                            to buy from and events to watch but little to
                                                          actually participate in.

Discovering Marie                                         So I would like, if permitted, to have a small
                                                          craft competition in the garden at Pann Mill on
I would like to say how much Denise and I                 National Mills Day next year. If the powers that
enjoyed Annie Woodward's talk on Marie Lloyd.             be will give us the go-ahead and if the WI will
I must admit, when Denise suggested we go, I              give us the benefit of their expertise and help
had never heard of Marie, but after the                   us with the judging, it could work and would
excellent talk, quotes and musical snippets for           create more interest in the Mill. So everyone
over an hour, at the end I felt I knew Marie              should start now to think about their skills,
Lloyd as a close friend!                                  sewing, photography, woodcarving, ceramics,
                                                          calligraphy etc etc in readiness to compete. (Let
I found it interesting that she came from                 us know what you think about this idea. – Ed.)
Peerless Street in Hoxton around Shoreditch, a
place I go to for work quite often, and driving           My more learned friends told me – repeatedly –
along Peerless Street will never be the same              that this year is not the new millennium – that
again. I am surprised Hackney Council have                it really starts in January 2001, so I hope this
not erected a plaque on her house. I will look            will be my millennium project.
out for one!                                              The weather was kind to us on Show Day, and
It was sad that at only 52 she collapsed on               there were plenty of people coming in to see the
stage at Edmonton and died two days later.                Mill at work and to buy the stone-ground flour.
Could this have been Edmonton Regal? Denise               There were so many people who remembered
informed me once on a trip around there that it           coming to the Mill to buy their chicken feed,
was a variety theatre but is now a Safeway                and lots who had never seen a "real" mill
supermarket! Denise was born in Edmonton                  working before – and lots who wanted to sit
and lived just off Tottenham High Road so her             down with a cup of tea and a cake in the
parents frequented the Regal which later                  garden and to talk – a lovely day – so here's to
became a dance hall.                                      the next open day.
Once again an excellent and informative talk              Margaret Simmons
by Annie Woodward.
                                                          Support Wycombe Museum!
Edmund Lindsay
                                                          Angela Rees, our Programme Secretary, would
Note: Annie herself has written in to express             like to draw your attention to several exhibitions
her thanks to all those involved – who provided           run by Wycombe Museum. Until 7 January you
food, donated prizes for the raffle, made very            can see Welsh quilts on loan from Ceredigion
generous donations, or just came, many in                 Museum. Until late January there is the "Love It
memorable costumes. She adds that in                      or Loathe It" exhibition at Handy Cross Sports
November, she was lucky enough to hear Marie              Centre. And starting on 13 January there is a
Lloyd's great niece, Miss Haley Birbeck, singing          further exhibition of Ron Goodearl's photo-
one of Marie's songs, "The boy I love is up in the        graphs, this time of people and groups across
gallery", at the Players' Theatre. Contact Annie          Wycombe District over a 50-year period.
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                               12                    NEWSLETTER WINTER 2000/2001



Notices                                                     Strong Arms and Legs Needed…
New Members                                                 …and strong backs would help too! Nearly every
                                                            event the Society organises seems to involve
We warmly welcome the following new members:                lifting, moving, stacking and re-arranging, not to
                                                            mention putting-away. The Membership &
Mrs R Bone of Knights Templar Way
                                                            Publicity Group should not really be expected to
Mr K S Davis of Hatters Lane
                                                            do this – their job is booking space, booking
Mrs J Dibb of Grenfell Avenue                               speakers, getting volunteers for food and coffee,
Mr T A Hatton of Bassetsbury Lane                           and for "manning" the stalls, etc.
Miss J H Kay of Hepplewhite Close                           Are there any stronger people in our Society (not
Mrs J Lee of Brands Hill Avenue                             necessarily men, but it would be nice to have
Mr P A Marshall of Buckingham Close                         some of those around) whom we could call upon
Mr C Milton of Hawthorne Road                               whenever needed? It would not be often.
Mrs B A Pathe of Nelson Close                               If you are shy about putting your hand up in
                                                            public, please give me your name at the January
Obituary                                                    2001 meeting, or phone me on (01494) 448773.
We regret to announce the death of:                                                         Ann Simone (who
              Miss Eveline Gadge                                                   doesn't have a strong back)

We extend our condolences to her family and
friends.                                                    Have Confidence!
                                                            Many thanks for those who have put pen to
Rocks!                                                      paper this quarter. Great to get a page full of
                                                            letters! But how about some real controversy?
At our next Quarterly Meeting on 9th January,
                                                            Surely something, somewhere, in the Town or in
our speaker is Dr Jill Eyres, who will talk to us
                                                            the Newsletter, gets at least one or two of you
about local geology. Geology has made our town
                                                            steamed up? If so, do write in. People around
– the dramatic townscapes, the hills and the
                                                            here don't bite! And you don't need to type it.
river, and the artesian wells, the mills and the
beechwoods. Come along to the meeting and                   Material for the Spring 2001 issue should reach
find out more!                                              me at 29 Maybrook Gardens High Wycombe
Arrive a little early and enjoy a glass of sherry to        HP13 6PJ (01494 528106) by 20 February,
welcome the New Year. And you get mince pies                please.
with your coffee!                                                               Chris Woodman (Hon Editor)


     Put these in your
     diary now!
2001
Tuesday 9 January 7.45pm                    Quarterly Meeting: Local Geology.
Reggie Goves Centre                         Speaker: Dr Jill Eyres, Geologist. (See above.)
                                            (Sherry, coffee and mince pies to welcome in the New Year.)
Tuesday 24 April 7.30pm                     Quarterly Meeting comprising Annual General Meeting
Reggie Goves Centre                         followed by short reports by each of the Society's Groups.
Sunday 13 May                               National Mills Day. See Pann Mill running again. More
Pann Mill                                   details in our Spring Newsletter.
Wednesday 23 May 7.45pm                     Arts Festival Meeting: "Three Chiltern Market Towns –
Venue to be decided – see the next          Amersham, Chesham and Wycombe."
Newsletter or our web site.                 Speaker: Julian Hunt, County Records and Local Studies
                                            Manager, Bucks County Council.


No, life on the planet doesn't end on 23 May 2001 – well, we don't think so, anyway – but the steps to
complete next year's exciting and absorbing programme were due to be taken just a few days after we
went to press! All will become clear in our next issue and, well before that, on our web site
(www.highwycombesociety.org.uk).

				
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